A Wikipedia alternative: Opera and ballet facts
With Wikipedia offline today in protest, a selection of opera and ballet facts. What are yours?
With Wikipedia offline today in protest at US anti-piracy legislation, we thought we’d take the opportunity to air a few opera and ballet facts:
- A male dancer can lift over one and a half tonnes worth of ballerinas during a performance.
- When Gounod’s Faust wasn’t selling tickets ahead of its premiere, the producer gave away tickets for the first three performances to people living outside of Paris and declared performances as sold out. Wondering what all the fuss was about, the public began buying tickets for the rest of the run, causing the opera to become a hit.
- Ballet dancers get through 2-3 pairs of pointe shoes per week.
- Puccini included ten Japanese folk songs within the score of Madama Butterfly.
- In 2008, police officers in Romania were ordered to take ballet classes with the aim being to “develop an ability to regulate traffic and achieve elegance in their movements, which will not only be agreeable to the eyes but could also help drivers waiting at a red light get rid of their stress or sadness.”
- For Macbeth, Verdi did not want the soprano playing Lady Macbeth to make a particularly beautiful sound. He wanted her to sing with a tone that could be ‘hard, stifled, and dark’ with ‘something devilish’ in the vocal quality. This was one of the first occasions in the history of opera when a singer was instructed to make such a sound in the service of the drama; when potent characterisation was given primacy.
- Shostakovich wrote a ballet about football – The Golden Age. The little known ballet tells the story of a team of socialist footballers and their exploits at an industrial exhibition in a bourgeois country referred to as ‘Faschland’. The composer relished combining his twin passions of ballet and football, though it resulted in failure.
- The shortest opera is just seven minutes long – Darius Milhaud’s The Deliverance of Theseus.
- The Firebird was to originally be danced by Anna Pavlova, but when she heard Stravinsky’s music she declared it “noise” and refused to dance to it.
- If Tosca had leaped from Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, she wouldn’t have killed herself but landed on a ledge, at worst breaking an ankle.
What are your opera and ballet facts?